RIYL = Autechre, Nathan Fake, Squarepusher
Clark is the kind of electronic artist that makes you feel like a complete idiot. But, regardless of how humiliated you feel after listening to Clark’s electronic digs, the head bobbing moments far outweighs the moments of shifty eyed nervousness. The problem is Clark repackages everything that is laughable about electronic music and then somehow makes you like it. The rigidly dry techno/house beats, the cringe worthy vocal samples, the mental image of glow sticks and distressed, baggy black denim pants (no?) – Clark’s latest inhabits all of these with such unashamed force and meticulous construction that submission is inevitable. Totems Flare is simply amazing. Like, Amaaaaaaaazing! I guess it is this unwavering stubbornness to resurrect electronic music so that it is cool again that makes Totems Flare that much more impressive. Clark’s bold faced electronica blatantly reveals the whole IDM scene as the weak kneed indie marketing strategy that it was/is. This isn’t soft serve electronic music. There are no “organic” samples, no break beats that can be remixed into indie rap songs or multilayered polyrhythmic jazz percussion. Totems Flare contains music meant to pummel you. And pummel it does. I can’t think of a album with a more massive bass sound than this album contains. Surely there is something out there comparable to this, but for the time being Clark has totally bulldozed any memory of an album that hits harder than this. In addition, Clark (the pre-eminent electronic professional) never falls into the trap of stagnation on Totems Flare. Everything is always shifting and moving in a way that, despite the potentially mind numbing beats, things are always exhilarating. I really loved Turning Dragons, Clark’s last full length, but I must admit that Totems Flare is every bit as good as that record and, with repeated listens, possibly better. This album is not to be missed.